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  • Writer's pictureJenna Lee Yun

My (bumpy) yellow-brick road to publishing--next stop: a book deal!

It's real! It's happening! I have a two-book book deal with Disney•Hyperion to publish my debut middle-grade contemporary fantasy, THE LAST RHEE WITCH, slated to release in Spring 2024, and a second unannounced book to release in Spring 2025.

The Quick and Dirty Dates and Numbers:

  • End of March/Early April 2022: I went out on sub.

  • Mid-July 2022: I received an offer on my book + a second middle grade book from Disney•Hyperion!

  • January 9, 2023: Signed the finalized contract for the book deal.

  • January 10, 2023: Made it official with the Publisher's Weekly announcement posting! (yes, you read that correctly. There was about a six-month span between the book being sold and signing the contract/announcing the deal.)

Details, Details, Details:

In a previous blog post I write about signing with my literary agent, Emily Forney at BookEnds Literary in October 2021. I received Emily's edit letter a few weeks after signing and for the next couple of months, I worked on a major revision of THE GHOST, THE WITCH, AND THE GOBLIN. Meanwhile, Emily worked on creating a list of editors she felt were a good fit for the book. Then, at the end of March 2022, we changed the title of the book to THE LAST RHEE WITCH and went out on sub! 🥳

The submission process can look different for every agent and writer combo, from the number of editors and submission rounds to the frequency of and transparency with communicating updates. I went out on my first round with a dozen editors and Emily graciously offered to provide updates in the way I wished to receive them. Since this was my first time going out on submission, I wasn't sure what I wanted or needed, so I went with what most of my agent siblings seemed to prefer: Emily would send me updates every few weeks that included which editors had passed and their reasons for passing, if they offered that. The exception to this plan was, of course, if an editor made an offer on the book.

During my 3.5 months on sub, I received four editor passes on TLRW. Between those updates, I did...a LOT. But what I didn't do was "work on the next book". Instead, I spent a couple of weeks deep-diving into the craft of writing picture books. It was a fun exercise to think about writing for an entirely different age category and I really enjoyed it! But writing picture books is HARD. I knew this going in and so I had zero expectations about coming out of it with any publishable material. I simply enjoyed learning a new craft!

Speaking of craft, I also got super into crafting (an old hobby of mine) and taught myself hand embroidery (which I inflicted upon my poor mentees) and hand lettering. Again, so much fun! I also read 19 books in a single month (a total of over 30 books over the course of my time on sub). I'm pretty sure that the only reason I was able to do so much was because for me, personally, being on sub was so incredibly freeing! I did not expect to feel this way since querying agents felt like literal torture. But when it came to editor submissions, I was truly able to get TLRW off my mind. I don't think this is something you can force, so I hope with all my heart that I'm able to return to this mentality when I'm on sub with my next book.

Sometime mid-June, I received an exciting text message from my agent informing me that an editor was interested in my book!!! BUT there were still a few hoops for TLRW to jump through. First, this editor had to get her team on board. About a week later...she got the green light! Then the editor wanted to meet with me to discuss the book and make sure our visions aligned. Luckily, it was a dream fit! But after that came what felt like the smallest and most difficult hoop--one that was lit on fire and suspended 500 feet above a rocky ravine: 🔥the acquisitions meeting🔥

It was an intense few days of waiting but it was worth it because in the end THE LAST RHEE WITCH was approved!!! 🎉🎉🎉

We received the official first offer from Christine Collins at Disney•Hyperion a couple days later, which was about 3 weeks after I first learned of Christine's interest. At this point, Emily was extra busy going between Christine and me doing her agent magic. On my end, the first thing I had to consider was the fact that we were in our first round of sub with only a few editor passes. Several other editors still had my book in their queue. I could choose to nudge those editors to let them know there's an offer on the table and see if they wanted to throw their hats in the ring, so to speak. Or I could pull my submission from them and accept the book deal with Disney•Hyperion.

After some discussion with Emily, I realized that I felt really, really good about Christine and Disney•Hyperion. Not only did I get the strong sense that Christine's vision aligned well with mine, but I could tell I would enjoy working with her. As for THE LAST RHEE WITCH, Disney•Hyperion felt like the perfect home for Ronnie, her friends, and all the ghosts, witches, and goblins 💙 Emily did some front end negotiations, pulled TLRW from the other editors, and we accepted the offer. The final deal memo was received on July 18, 2022 🥳

I started working on developmental edits with Christine immediately, which confirmed my suspicion that she's a genius! At the time of this writing, I had just sent her the second (and final) round of developmental edits. After that are a couple of line edit passes...then off to copyediting!

So...what comes next?

A lot. But some things I'm particularly looking forward to sharing with everyone are:

  • book cover art 👀🤩😍

  • ARC and/or final copies of TLRW

  • promotions as we get closer to release date in spring 2024

  • Book 2 😱 things

Thanks for reading and joining me on this journey!


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